Rigobert Song, the coach of Cameroon, has enjoyed a low-key lead-up to the World Cup in Qatar and is hopeful that it will help his team in their opening Group G match against Switzerland on Thursday at the Al Janoub Stadium.
Song, a former player who competed in four World Cup finals, claimed that the nation’s football association had learned from the mistakes of the past and that the present setup offered a strong platform for success at the competition.
Internal conflicts and disagreements over pay and bonuses have hampered previous Cameroon World Cup teams.
“We are very calm, and we’re pleased that all of the mistakes we’ve made in the past have not been repeated, We haven’t had any disputes about wages, about money, things have changed,” Song told reporters on Wednesday.
“The CFA has (former striker) Samuel Eto’o as president, he’s a hard worker, he’s there every day trying to make sure the players are as well prepared as possible.
“We’ve seen mistakes made in the past, but this time we’re calm, we’re ready, we’re focused,” he added.
Since defeating Saudi Arabia in 2002, the Indomitable Lions haven’t won a World Cup group match. Song is hoping that his background, which includes getting sent off twice, will help his team.
“That experience is helpful when I talk to the young generation, they are professional, they know what they have to do, I’m just trying to support them, to help them do the best they can,” the 46-year-old said.
While midfielder Samuel Oum Gouet joined Song at the news conference and expressed the team’s eagerness to begin the tournament, Song remained mum about his starting lineup and who would serve as captain.
“We’re very excited about being here. Any footballer or manager who gets to the World Cup is very excited, and we’re very focused,” the 24-year-old said.
Song didn’t say much to temper expectations after FA president Eto’o predicted that his country would win the competition.
“We know we are at a very good level and the organisation behind the scenes is good as well, so the footballers can focus on their job, I think that’s why we’re more focused today and there’s no doubt in our minds what we are capable of,” he said.
“They are a very strong group, but perhaps I can make them even stronger.”